Star Party at the Nipomo Native Gardens

December 1, 2010

Visitors: Administrators, Adults and students from the Guadalupe-Nipomo, Dunes Center

Chris Estrada, Dave Majors, and I (Tom Frey) held a star party on 12/1/10 at the Nipomo Native Gardens (NNG) in Nipomo, CA. This was at the request made to Cindy Jelinek and Charlie Gulyash, members of the NNG, from Kanani Fox, Education and Administrative Coordinator of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center. The after school program at the Dunes Center has been doing an astronomy session for the students this fall and wanted to know if members of the CCAS could bring telescopes to the NNG for an early evening star party.

Tom, Chris, and Dave were set up by 6:30 PM when the groups of 7 adults and 9 students arrived. After a few brief words of introduction and telling the group about the CCAS, Chris took the group on a tour of the visible constellations using his laser pointer and speaking of the mythology behind their placement in the sky. With 3 telescopes and a binocular chair, the group viewed Jupiter and 2 of its moons, M15, M27, M57, M31 (the biggest hit besides Jupiter), M45, and finally about 8PM, M42.

Here are some of the comments Tom, Chris and Dave received the next day:

I am so impressed with your astronomy group that you asked to come to the garden last night. They were very informative, great with the kids and adults and had some pretty amazing telescopes. Two children in particular from Santa Maria, had never seen the night sky like that before, never peered through a telescope, knew that you could see a planet or see another galaxy before. I am so thankful that we have been able to work together on this field trip and that in my mind it was a complete and total success! These two young ladies immediately after seeing the north star climbed down from the step stool and said “I’m going to be an astronaut when I grow up and I’m going to travel in space!”. What a genuine reaction to something that we as adults may take for granted the knowledge that we have.

Furthermore, all the children had a wonderful time and the parents as well. I just want to thank you again for taking the time to open the garden and host us (again!) for a field trip to expand the horizons of our local youth in SM, Nipomo and Oceano! Many of which are underserved and may never get this opportunity to stare into the night sky without the inhibitions of street lights and be inspired to do great things!

..and a following note:

Thank you so much for all your help with our group last night.   I really believe that many of these young, new scientists will begin to explore the night sky more as time goes on.   I think the sheer magnitude of how big and dynamic our solar system is made an impression, not to mention the ability, thanks to you and the club offered, to have an up close view of what they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to gaze at in the city. I will check out the website and hopefully get up to the lake soon!   Looking forward to viewing the night sky again!

My sincerest thanks,


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